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Question to the Sexpert:
“I’m in the process of coming out as lesbian and need some help. I’m in my early thirties and have never even approached being involved in the gay scene. I started to realize my orientation a few years ago, but was very traditional-minded and never thought I would be able to live any other way. But it’s important to me that I not waste any more time and begin living the life I want. I found stuff online about how to come out to your friends and family and while the conversations have not always been easy, I feel good about being able to be honest. What remains for me is finding lesbian and gay friends and learning how to approach women. I don’t know any gay people my age in my social network, other than a couple acquaintances. How do I go to a lesbian bar and meet people? How do I act there? What’s the protocol?”
Congrats on coming out- even in 2009 that’s a mighty accomplishment. Now you got the crappy part out of the way, the oh-so-serious conversation with the parental units that they somehow manage to make about themselves, you are free to move on to the fun part: meeting hot chicks.
First of all, be aware that you probably know more gay people than you realize. Not only are most lesbians and gays standard, unassuming people, but you’ve probably found yourself inexplicably drawn to fellow queers without realizing it. Observe more closely around you, viewing people through a HomoLens and see if you haven’t been overlooking coworkers who don’t mention the gender of their partner, neighbors with a rainbow flag, or friends who know a little too much about Kathy Griffin.
There’s also nothing like coming out in conversation to encourage other people to do the same. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t also happen to be gay, they’ll probably still take the opportunity to tell you about the gayest person or thing they know about. Kind of like a gay version of the thing that happens when idiot white people meet a Black person and wonder if this one knows the other Black person they know.
But there are plenty of ways to meet brand new gay people to hang out with- depending on your personal interests. Here are a few and some pointers for each.
Almost every town, as long as it’s not so small the mayor knows everyone by name, has something in the manner of a gay bar or a gay night. Go there. It might be depressing, if you live in the sticks, but it’s a stepping stone and good practice.
Strike up conversations with anyone who seems interesting, even if you don’t find them attractive. They might know someone else who might have gone to high school with someone who’s dating someone who lives with someone who you actually will be really into. It never hurts to have friends.
There can be a lot of drama on the lesbian nightclub dance floor- don’t even let me get started on the politics of same-sex stranger grinding- but have a good time and be friendly.
You can go the route of lesbian dating sites. Here is a list of a bunch, here is another. There are an endless number of options, if you want to put the time into creating a profile and sifting through the sea of candidates. This may be incredibly efficient, since you can search easily and know instantly if someone has dealbreakers like smoking or kids, but it can be exhausting.
You can also use the interweb to meet people through message boards, meetups and other arenas where people have something in common. Search Meetup.com, look for local gay and lesbian newspapers and find out about art and music performances geared towards gay audiences.
All that is great to meet friends and possibly more, but what if you like someone whose orientation is unknown to you? You can look for signs of gayness or general interest, but you can’t know until you just suck it up and try. If you like a woman and think she’s pretty, go frickin talk to her. What’s the worst that can happen? That she won’t date you? Well, she’s not dating you now, so you’ve got nothing to lose.
Don’t worry about if you’re butch enough or femme enough for a girl, just talk to her about whatever seems relevant and if she’s receptive, you’ll know. If it works out, awesome. If it doesn’t, it was just practice for the next one. Good luck!
Sexpert Timaree Schmit is currently finishing her doctorate in Human Sexuality, the culmination of a lifetime of prurient interests. She has worked as a sex educator writing for both academic and popular media for over seven years, and as an HIV Prevention Counselor, peer sexuality educator and adjunct professor. She was the founding Chair of the Human Sexuality Education Student Organization (HSEDSO) and is an active member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) and the Society for Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS). You can see more of her work at SexWithTimaree.com